1703-10-31 – Combat of Lewenz
Prelude to the Battle
In the second half of September 1703, the 23 years old László Ocskay marched at the head of a party of Kurucs (rebels) from the Komitat (county) of Gemer to Upper Hungary (present-day Slovakia). The castles of Oždany, Hajnáčka, Krásná Horka (owned by Paul Count Andrássy), Fiľakovo and the towns of Lučenec and Rimavská Sobota opened their doors without resistance. On 17 September, with approx. 3,500 Kurucs and some guns captured at Posaucken (present-day Bzovík/SK), Ocskay made himself master of Lewenz (aka Léva, present-day Levice/SK) by ruse. He established his headquarters there and got married to Ilona Tisza.
In October, Ocskay captured Käsmark (present- day Kežmarok/SK) and Klein Szeben (present- day Sabinov/SK).
On 25 October, an Imperialist corps under the command of FML Leopold Count Schlik (aka Schlick) left Pressburg (present-day Bratislava/SK) and marched to Sereth (present-day Sered/SK) to make a junction with the “insurrection troops” of Colonel Simon Forgách. Both then proceeded by way of Neutra (present-day Nitra/SK) to Sankt Benedikt (present-day Hronský Beňadik/SK). Schlik had his infantry transported in carts and wagons while the Kuruc cavalry followed the column on both flanks. Schlik did not march to the mining towns in middle of Upper Hungary as the Kurucs expected but took the direction of Lewenz.
Description of Events
On 31 October, Schlik’s troops passed the Gran River (present-day Hron River) at Catra (present-day Kalná nad Hronom) and marched towards Lewenz.
Around 10:00 a.m., Forgách’s “insurrection troops” (mostly militia hussars) engaged Ocskay’s vanguard in front of the bridge on the Perec Creek. Forgách insurrection troops did not withstand the attack of the Kurucs and turned back. At this moment, Schlik’s cuirassiers and dragoons arrived and the Kurucs retreated behind the Perec Creek and – reinforced by some units from Lewenz - took up new defensive positions on the Calvaria Hill north of Lewenz.
Schlik deployed his corps in two lines: one was directed against the town of Lewenz, and the other against the Calvaria Hill, where Ocskay had concentrated most of his men.
The attack on Lewenz was conducted by La Tour Cuirassiers, led by Colonel Viard, and Schlik Dragoons, led by Colonel Stadelmayer. These two cavalry regiments were followed by infantry. Some dismounted Schlik Dragoons found an unguarded place in the wall and entered into town. The fight with the Kurucs lasted until afternoon. After Schlik’s concentric attack on the town, the rest of the Kurucs took refuge in the castle, which was surrounded by deep and wide moat.
Ocskay with some 2,000 men managed to retire northeastwards to Pukanz (aka Bakabánya, present-day Pukanec/SK). Schlik planted his artillery on the Calvaria Hill, and opened fire on the castle, summoning its commander to surrender. The latter refused and asked for fairer conditions, but Schlik rejected his demand.
In the evening, informed of Ocskay’s escape, the Kuruc garrison opened the gate of the castle. Schlik, very angry about the long resistance of the Kurucs, let his men kill the whole garrison (around 500 men).
In this action, Schlik captured 10 heavy and 2 light guns. The Kurucs lost around 1,000 men, while the losses of the Imperial forces were marginal.
This victory allowed Schlik to make himself master of the town of Schemnitz (present-day Banská Šťiavnica/SK) but his victory was short lived and Imperial troops were defeated in mid-November and Schlik had to retire towards the Waag Valley (present-day Váh Valley/SK), constantly harassed by Kuruc parties.
Order of Battle
Imperialist Order of Battle
Commander-in-chief: FML Leopold Count Schlik von Bassano and Weisskirchen
Commander of the “Insurrection Troops”: Colonel Simon Forgách
Summary: 1,600 horse, 3,600 regular infantry and 2,000 insurrection troops with 12 guns
Regular Infantry (3,600 men)
- Nehem Infantry (? coys)
- Deutschmeister Infantry (? coys)
- Hasslingen Infantry (6 coys)
- Virmond Infantry (? coys)
- Kriechbaum Infantry (1 recruit bn)
- Freikompanie Dussard (5 coys)(*)
- Frei-Compagnie Guethem (1 coy)
- 4th Danske (1 bn) former Danish Endens Infantry
Regular Cavalry (1,600 men)
- Schlik Dragoons (? sqns)
- La Tour Cuirassiers (? sqns)
“Insurrection Troops” (2,000 irregulars)
(*) This “Freikompanie” was raised in 1702 at Kaschau by the second lieutenant-colonel of Salm Infantry, Jakob Baron Dussard (simultaneously commander of Kaschau). Salm Infantry contributed 40 well trained men to form the kernel of Dussard’s unit. In 1705, these five companies would be transferred to Friesen Infantry and Hasslingen Infantry.
Kuruc Order of Battle
Commanders-in-chief: László Ocskay known as “Rákóczi’s lightning
Summary: approx. 3,500 Kurucs (mostly light cavalry)
Abtheilung für Kriegsgeschichte des k. k. Kriegs-Archives: Feldzüge des Prinzen Eugen von Savoyen, Series 1, Vol. 6, Vienna 1879, pp. 153-158
Bánlaky József: A Magyar Nemzet Hadtörténelme
Hungarian Wikipedia – Észak-magyarországi hadjárat (1703)
Rabenhorst: Geschichte des K.u.K Infanterie-Regiments Prinz Friedrich August Herzog zu Sachsen Nr. 45, p. 41, Brünn 1897
Wrede, A. v.: Geschichte der K. und K. Wehrmacht, file I. and II, Vienna 1898
Harald Skala and Dinos Antoniadis for the initial version of this article